One week ago today, Monday October 20th I woke up convinced I was on the verge of illness. You know the feeling: the achy beginnings of a sore throat, the light congestion, the slight ache of the body after sleep. I groaned and started my ‘wellness assault’ on my body which includes a whole handful of vitamin C, daily coldFX, oil of oregano and green tea. I set my mouth in a firm line and repeated over and over in my head I will not become sick. I have too much to do. I cannot take a break.
I was unsurprised with the threatening illness. September and October had been as intense of months as I’ve had in a while, with my personal hour tracker (yes, I keep track of my hours: work and training. Nerdy, I know) creeping up past 55+ hours for work each week since September 2nd. (Sadly, 55 hours was the lowest of them all.) Depressingly I had only taken a break from work over the long weekend of Montreal, sadly logging massive hours before and after making it feel less like a break. I felt a little bit like work was drowning me; I completed a task or project only to have another crop up; I’d worried declining work would be the demise of my business. Melodramatic, I know.
Yet, I am smart enough to know that my creative juices rarely flow in front of a computer screen. I typically have my best creative thoughts and ideas on a bike saddle (#1) while running, hiking or dog-walking (#2) away from home on a vacation or long-weekend (#3) or while drinking wine: more than one, less than three (#4). Despite knowing that rest, relaxation, recreation would allow me to bounce back from the overwhelm and slight slump I found myself in, I did the exact opposite and pressed on harder than ever before.
It’s not really so surprising that I had a little bang up on Friday afternoon. That I took a few hours off work to meet a friend and we hit up West Bragg, riding Merlin View (phenomenal) where I happily noted I rode well; having had a fantastic season of mountain biking (53 rides so far in 2014) making big improvements over last season. I’m still cautious and probably will always be from The Great Accident of 2012, but my overall enjoyment of the sport and skill set has improved dramatically. We were probably less than 300 meters from the parking lot to finish when we passed two guys on their way out. The first rider I manoeuvred easily around, the second, not.
It’s always tricky for me to say what exactly happened, I believe it was an unfortunate combination of me not moving far enough around rider 2, and rider 2 not yielding. I will share the blame, we bumped handle bars and I attempted to recover by unclipping my left foot to steady myself on the ground. Instead my left elbow and left knee hit the single track full of gravel.
Fire shot up my left elbow and I gritted my teeth. Damnit. I hadn’t hit my head, lost consciousness, nor did I have the ache of a broken bone. I scraped myself up, plain and simple. I was irritated at myself and rider 2 for making such a simple error in judgement. I remounted the bike and carried on.
Sherri and I rode back to the lot and this was when I lightly rinsed out my elbow with water. ouch. Sherri pointed out that my knee was bleeding through my leg warmers. Shit. I peeled the leg warmer away and my stomach lurched at my left knee (ironically not the one I’d been rehabbing that had prevented me from running most of 2014) which looked like bloody mashed potatoes. I’m not so good with blood- but I have enough smart to know I was going to need some medical attention.
Friday night and I find myself in the emergency room. Forced to undergo X-Rays (“I swear it isn’t broken!” won’t deter a doctor) and wait for someone to stitch up my left knee. I stood in the waiting room and watched the Alouettes football game on TV (small blessings) and finally, almost six hours after I fell, I got stitched up.
What surprised me the most about the stitches and the days that followed is how much pain I was in. I hate even typing that because I can see my Grandpa in my head, calling me a sissy; I can see myself in the mirror, wincing at every step. I hate asking for help. I hate feeling useless. But I was forced to ask for help all weekend long. Yesterday afternoon and last night was the worst: the stitches bled, my knee was big and swollen, and my left elbow road rash continued to ooze and stick to everything, causing tears every time I had to peel the sheets away from the healing wound.
I’m stubborn as hell and my inclination is to simply PUSH PAST and CARRY ON DAMNIT when I realized what I really need to do is take it easy for a few days. Follow the doctors orders: no swimming, no riding, no running. Let the stitches heal. Move lightly but don’t be aggressive. Keep the leg up for a while. Sleep and clean out the wounds. Be patient.
I can’t help but to laugh a little at the irony: I thought a cold would put me down into forced convalescence when the universe decided to throw me a little gravel instead. Just enough of an injury to slow down and breathe, but not enough to really sidetrack my life. As my friend Bay writes, well played universe, well played. If you need me, I will be at home attempting to rest, letting myself recover and regroup.